The sporting goods market as a whole is a multi-billion dollar industry, with retail sales of sporting goods reaching $45.8 billion in 2003. Sales are expected to grow 2% in 2004 to $46.7 billion. The personal consumption of sporting goods is forecast to grow at an annual compounded rate of 4.8% between 2004 and 2007. Retail sales at sporting goods stores are very sensitive to the health of the economy, because most sports are a leisure activity. Spending on sporting goods correlates strongly with consumer confidence and level of personal disposable income.
The sporting goods market has a myriad of segments that can be categorized by product, sport, geography, behavior, participation, organization and standard demographics. Demographics play a big part in sporting goods sales, since population growth and age groups distinctly impact sport participation.
Our main sales categories break down customer groups by Sports Participation - ie., for which sport(s) the person is buying equipment. These customers have needs based on the specific sport(s) in which they participate. For example, Baseball participants are looking specifically for baseball equipment, uniforms, training aids, etc. We will initially focus on players of Baseball, Softball, Volleyball, Basketball, and Football.
However, in terms of marketing, we will take different approaches to attracting the attention of potential customers based on their relation to the sport or sports player (customer type), and on their buying method/location (retail/online).
We believe that Sportsuchtig, with its multiple channels of operation - retail and internet stores - is well positioned to strategically attack these markets. We will first look to increase growth in the market segments we currently serve (baseball, softball) and then look to aggressively penetrate and increase sales to other sports participant segments, especially those that cater to the athletic tastes of aging baby boomers. There is great opportunity for growth in the "customer type" segments; we will initially look to increase our exposure and products to these segments, especially League Representatives and Independent Team Coaches in the metropolitan area. We will approach the 256 million participants nationwide through the internet store, which will be enhanced with an improved user experience and an aggressive Web marketing strategy.
Sportsuchtig' market is both nationwide (even some international) via the internet store, and local, via the retail store, in the local metropolitan region. Market segmentation for Sportsuchtig has several layers and can be analyzed and targeted from many different angles.
The targeted customer market will be segmented in multiple layers as follows:
Sports Participation - These customers have needs based on the specific sport(s) in which they participate. For example Baseball participants are looking specifically for baseball equipment, uniforms, training aids, etc. The National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) reports in a 2003 report on sports participation in the U.S. for those 7 years of age and older, that there were over 256 million sports participants in 2003 (some participated in multiple sports). The major sports participation segments initially for Sportsuchtig:
Baseball - According to the NSGA 2003 report, for those 7 years of age and older, over 14.6 million people participated in Baseball. Of these 14.6 million, 4.5 million were aged 7-11 and 4.1 million were aged 12-17.
Softball - According to the NSGA 2003 report, for those 7 years of age and older, over 11.8 million people participated in Softball. Of these 11.8 million, 1.9 million were aged 7-11 and 2.9 million were aged 12-17.
Volleyball - According to the NSGA 2003 report, for those 7 years of age and older, over 10.4 million people participated in Volleyball. Of these 10.4 million, 1.3 million were aged 7-11 and 3.4 million were aged 12-17.
Basketball - According to the NSGA 2003 report, for those 7 years of age and older, over 27.9 million people participated in Basketball. Of these 27.9 million, 6.3 million were aged 7-11 and 7.9 million were aged 12-17.
Football - According to the NSGA 2003 report, for those 7 years of age and older, over 8.7 million people participated in tackle Football and 9.3 million in touch Football.
Other Sports (Future for Sportsuchtig) - According to the NSGA 2003 report, for those 7 years of age and older, over 173.4 million people reported participating in other sports than those that Sportsuchtig currently targets. This represents a huge growth opportunity for Sportsuchtig as it moves to target these sports segments.
These millions of participants are all potential customers for the internet store. The local area has a large number of youth recreation, adult recreation, and school leagues for these sports.
Customer Type - These customers have needs based upon the type of role they play in regards to the sports participants. For example, many times those making sporting goods purchases are not those actually participating in the sport, but instead are parents, athletic directors, and coaches.
Individual Participants - These are the actual sports participants. Typically, these would be adult participants or older youths who have the technical knowledge and disposable income to purchase sporting goods equipment and apparel on their own.
Parents - Parents buy on their own, or are present during the purchase of over 90% of sporting goods purchases for youths ages 5-18. This segment can be heavily influenced by their children in regards to the "hot" or best products. They are also the segment in most need of technical assistance from sporting goods store staff.
League Representatives - Members of adult and youth athletic associations are responsible for league equipment and uniform purchases to outfit league teams. Long-term relationships and sponsorship participation are important to this segment. They usually have technical proficiency and want to deal with someone that is on or above their technical level of expertise. This segment is usually well informed about recent product offerings and can be a solid channel for introducing new products. They are also a marketing channel to all the participants and parents involved with their league.
Independent Team Coaches - Typically those organizing and coaching adult sports teams, or individual advanced youth teams (such as AAU teams), they are responsible for the design and purchase of their individual team uniforms.
School Athletic Coaches and Directors - Public and private middle and high school athletic directors must outfit their teams with high quality sporting goods equipment and uniforms. Establishing ;relationships with this segment is difficult, but can be lucrative if all of the school's sporting goods needs can be met.
Sports Performance Businesses - These are organizations that sell services to enhance the participant's performance in his or her sport. Many times, they operate recreational/training facilities and offer individual or team training programs. Selling equipment to these facilities provides a channel, not only to the facilities' customers, but also to the many area school and league coaches, who are typically part-time employees of these companies.
Retail/Online - It is critical for us, as a retail store, to understand the demographics of our different sales bases.
National - The demographic for the internet store is truly nationwide. The potential customer segment is all of the 256 million sports participants that have access to the internet. Products have been sold and shipped from this site to most of the 50 states in the U.S. In fact, products have also been sold internationally in Japan, Singapore, etc.
Metropolitan Area - The metropolitan area has a population of just over 1 million. This area is made up of 13 counties and cities and grew 15% from 1990 to 2000. Jansen county is the county where most of Sportsuchtig current retail customers live. Jansen county has a population of 278 million and a recent growth rate of 2%. Jansen county alone has 52,000 students, 36 elementary schools, 12 middle schools, and 10 high schools. The other largest counties - Jefferson and Lucas - are growing at 1.5% and 2.3% respectively. We believe that relocating the retail store north will provide significantly better accessibility for the sports participants in these counties, especially with the opening of the new highway around the western edge of the metropolitan area.
The focus will initially be on the Baseball and Softball participant segment, because this is Sportsuchtig' current core competency and because the number of participants, both nationally and locally, is quite large. We will look to leverage current Sportsuchtig relationships in this segment and move aggressively to increase sales and margins through a targeted marketing campaign.
We will then strategically target other participation segments to try and increase sales during the non-peak baseball/softball sales months. This is a huge opportunity for growth for the company, as evidenced by the large number of participants present in the other participant segments. Changing tastes in sports and strong sales of sporting goods in recent years partly reflect the changing composition of the U.S. population. In particular, the number of older (and more affluent) people has increased rapidly in the past decade. As the Baby Boomers age, they participate less in vigorous sports like baseball, basketball, and tennis, and more in relaxed sports like camping, fishing, and golf. We believe quickly moving into at least one sport that serves this aging market to be critical to meeting sales goals.
The "customer type" segments are currently-under served by Sportsuchtig. Although the company does have some relationships with various leagues and organizations - such as the U.S.S.A. (U.S. Softball Association) - there is room for significant segment penetration with the addition of targeted sales efforts and the staffing of a sales team.
Due to the fact that the company has both an internet store and a retail store it is important to understand the market segmentation and demographics on both a national and local level. The internet store has made substantial sales (almost 1.3 million in 2003) with a weak user presentation experience and basically no Web marketing strategy. The analysis of the number of sports participants nationwide, not to mention internationally, illuminates the fact that attacking this nationwide segment through a focused Web strategy could bring significant returns.
In the U.S., about 20,000 companies operate retail sporting goods stores, with combined annual revenue of $25 billion. Most operate a single retail location. Large chain operators include Sports Authority ($1.4 billion revenue), Gart Sports ($936 million), Dick's Sporting Goods ($2 billion - including the recent acquisition of Galyan's), and Hibbett Sporting Goods ($241 million). The industry is highly fragmented. There are 150 companies with more than 5 stores, but the 20 largest chains hold only about 35 percent of the national market.
Sporting goods stores vary according to format and merchandise. Large format stores (Dick's, Sports Authority), also known as "Big Box" stores, are from 20,000 to 100,000 square feet, stock a large number of items, and are typically found as anchor stores in strip malls or in stand-alone locations. Traditional sporting goods' retail stores (Happy Sports, Don's Sporting Goods in the metro area) are from 5,000 to 20,000 square feet, carry a more limited number of items, and are typically found in strip or enclosed malls. Sportsuchtig falls into this traditional format with 7,400 square feet, 2.5 million in sales, and 10-12 employees. Large format stores typically have more than $5 million in annual revenue and more than 50 employees. raditional retail stores typically have $1-$5 million in sales and 10-50 employees. In the U.S., there are about 8,000 large-format and traditional sporting goods stores, with 50% of industry revenue.
Sporting goods are also sold by mass merchandisers like Wal-Mart, Kmart, and Target, and by catalog and Internet retailers like Cabela's and L.L. Bean. Although large chains sell a broad range of merchandise at lower prices, small local stores can successfully compete by offering better service or specializing in a particular sport(s). Because the equipment of many sports is very technical, knowledgeable salespeople are a strong competitive factor. Employees must be trained to understand and explain differences. Companies typically try to recruit employees who are avid sports' participants.
Marketing is typically through a combination of advertising and sports events. Advertising is most often through newspaper ads, inserts, direct mailings, and sometimes radio. Word-of-mouth advertising is especially important to traditional sporting goods stores that provide superior service and expertise. Many companies sponsor local sports events or competitions and host appearances by sports celebrities. Some stores provide technical services and "participation areas" like basketball hoops, putting greens, and climbing walls. In addition to selling individual items, many stores (Happy, Don's) specialize in selling team uniforms and equipment to local schools and clubs.
Inventory management is a major concern for all sporting goods retailers because of the large numbers of items they sell and the short selling season for many sports. Insufficient inventory produces missed sales, but excess inventory can't easily be sold once a sports season is over. Many companies use highly sophisticated computerized inventory management systems.
The competition for Sportsuchtig' retail store in the metropolitan area includes one large format sporting goods chain with 4 locations, 2 well known traditional format sporting goods stores with 1 location each, and around 18 specialty, or niche, sporting goods stores.
The large format store is Dick's Sporting Goods, which is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With its recent purchase of Galyan's Trading Company, Dick's now has annual sales of over $2 billion and operates 221 stores in 32 states. Dick's has 4 big box stores in the metropolitan area. Dick's offers a very wide variety of sports equipment and products, but the selection within each sport is usually limited and narrow. Their stores are big and impressive and found in upscale areas. The stores appear to be under-staffed, as it is usually hard to find ready assistance. Once found, the employees are not very knowledgeable in regards to product offerings and/or location of the products in the store. Most of the time the employees are teenagers. Products are generally priced higher than the competition, although they do have frequent sales and discounts. They utilize a "Score Card" discount club program that allows frequent customers to benefit from specials and discounts once they reach a certain level of points based on past purchases. They actually give the customer a credit-card-sized card to present when making purchases. They utilize the information gathered during registration for this program to send direct mail and email offers to the members. Customers generally purchase from Dick's when they don't need technical assistance, a generic product with small selection is sufficient, and price is not a driver. Dick's is the most dominant and visible player in the market, because of their advertising and high profile stores. Dick's also has a Web store from which they sell products and provide store location services.
The two traditional sporting goods stores in the metropolitan area are Don's Sporting Goods and Happy Sports. Both of these stores are very well known and have been in the local market for over 30 years. These 2 stores are in the same class and format as Sportsuchtig.
Don's Sporting Goods had been a family owned business sice 1952, until it was sold in June of 2004 to a publicly traded company. Don's had annual sales in 2003 of around $18 million and operates eight warehouses and showrooms in this region. It operates one showroom in the local area at its headquarters in the near west end. Don's showrooms are usually around 3,000-3,500 square feet and contain many sports but very sparse selection. The store layout is changed frequently, following the seasonality of the sports. Typically their store staff members have technical knowledge and can help customers determine the right product for them. Don's strength is in its 35-40 strong nationwide sales force that specializes in the distribution of team uniforms and school equipment. Don's also has a nice Web site and e-commerce store from which they sell individual and team products.
Happy Sports is family-owned and opened in 1970. They operate one retail store in a west-end shopping center. The store is around 4,500 square feet and offers many different sports products. The store has been upgraded in recent years and the variety and selection are broader now than in previous years. They claim to have a knowledgeable staff but personal visits to this store have proven this not to be true. Happy also has a fairly strong Team Division which sells to schools and recreation leagues. Happy also utilizes a credit card size "Discount Card" that allows frequent customers to benefit from specials and discounts once they reach a certain level of points based on past purchases. They recently did an advertising campaign through local radio stations. They have a Web site that lists some of their products but it is not e-commerce, as you can not purchase products directly from the site.
Play It Again Sports is part of a 450-store national franchise chain that has been operating since 1988. They have 4 franchises in the local area. Play It Again's niche is that they buy, sell, and trade used and new sports equipment. They claim that because their customers can sell or trade-in their used gear for cash or store credit that they are able to get deeper discounts and better prices on really great used and new equipment. Generally these stores appear to be poorly staffed, both from a numbers and a technical knowledge standpoint. We found their prices not much more competitive than those at Dick's.
The 18 or so specialty stores found around the local metropolitan area specialize in golf, tennis, soccer, biking, swimming, running, etc. Most operate very small, 1,000-1,500 square foot, stores. As Sportsuchtig moves into other sports, some of these will become direct competitors. For example, All About Soccer operates 2 stores - one in the west end, and another on the south side. They focus purely on Soccer products - balls, shin guards, and cleats.
The competition for our Internet store is significant. There are many Internet sports stores vying for the online customer's dollars - over 50. The most significant of these include big box stores like Dick's and The Sports Authority, but also smaller more traditional ;companies such as Fog Dog, Blackwater, Annaconda, Direct Sports, Bassco, Big 5 Sporting Goods, Planet Sports, Baseball Corner, and Baseball Express. Most of these internet stores offer a full range of sports products and their Web sites are professionally done and usually feature tools designed to draw the customer back to the site repeatedly.
We believe the internet store has done extremely well to date against this competition and that with an improved Web site design and a Web marketing strategy we can significantly increase our sales through this channel. On the retail side, we believe our large selection and inventory, our staff's technical knowledge, and our unique customer service will help us compete against our competitors in the local market.